Migrants staying in hotels paid for by the taxpayer are not having their quarantine enforced, it has emerged.
Ministers have been urged to investigate Channel crossers not going into self-isolation despite returning holidaymakers having to for 10 days, enforced by daily calls and police checks.
Migrants told The Daily Telegraph that they had been allowed to leave their hotels and could even go shopping while they were supposed to be confined to their rooms.
Security guards posted outside the hotels to supervise migrants’ movements in and out of the buildings admitted they were unable to police quarantine because they did not know who was self-isolating and who was not.
Up to 10,000 asylum seekers are housed in hotels because of an increase in claims after migrant Channel crossings. Some new arrivals are now quarantining because of the travel traffic light system.
Another 281 crossed the Channel to reach the UK on Tuesday, taking the total this year past 9,500, beating last year’s annual record of 8,420.
The numbers testing positive for Covid on arrival have ranged between five per cent and one per cent, which is four to 20 times the UK average, according to Border Force sources.
The Home Office has had to block book hotels, some at least until January, in order to accommodate the surge in migrants reaching the south coast.
Tim Loughton, a Conservative member of the Home Affairs Committee, said the cramped conditions at the processing centre in Tug Haven, near Dover, increased the risk of transmission of Covid despite the provision of masks and sanitisers.
“If we are sending them to quarantine in hotels and it is being flouted, it makes a mockery of the system and flies in the face of other travellers from red list countries or amber-plus like France. It’s one rule for law-abiding citizens and another rule for others,” he said.
Alp Mehmet, the chairman of Migration Watch, said: “What has been the point of quarantining all and sundry, including returning British holidaymakers and legitimate visitors, if people who have forced their way into the UK go unchecked and are left to roam about at will?
“The least the Government can do is make sure its own rules are enforced properly and fairly.”
The Telegraph visited four hotels housing migrants – all of which had been block booked for them. At one hotel, in Peckham, south London, one migrant told how he was allowed to go shopping during his quarantine.
“I was quarantining for 12 days but I could go outside. Security asked for your room numbers when you left and to sign back in.” Asked if he could leave and go to shops during this time, he replied “yes”.
Another migrant at the Peckham hotel, who wanted to remain anonymous but was Kurdish, said: “During quarantine we’re allowed into the front garden by the road, and into a backyard for cigarette breaks.”
At another hotel in Kensington, west London, migrants were freely entering and leaving with no security guard in sight for long periods.
When a guard did arrive, he admitted: “I don’t know how many are in quarantine, whether it’s one, two or none.”
Asked about those coming and going, he said: “I see what you’re saying, but those ones are probably not quarantining.”
Neighbours feared Covid rules were not being followed. Sean Muronda, 46, who lives next to the hotel, said: “All the time I see new faces. I do not think quarantine is being followed and it’s quite a concern. The number of them coming in and coming out, it’s every day.”
Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: “They’re out and about all the time on their bikes, they’re out late at night, going down to the shops. I would assume that there aren’t very many rules being adhered to there from what I’ve seen.”
At another hotel in Pimlico, there was a temporary extended check-in desk with supplies for arriving migrants but no security guards.
The fourth hotel at Victoria had one maskless security guard who did not know, when asked, how many people were in quarantine there. At one point a resident arrived and shouted at guards, saying “I’m not in prison, stop treating me like I’m in prison” before she was ushered inside.
Home Office spokesman said: “All migrants are kept in bubbles from the moment they arrive, there is strict quarantine and self-isolation measures in place, along with additional medical support.
“Newly-arrived migrants at hotels are treated as they would be at other facilities, and are expected to comply with Covid regulations including a 10-day self-isolation period. There is 24/7 security at all hotels.”